Tired from playing for the fourth time in six days, and trailing by two goals with one period left, the Skaneateles ice hockey team had every right to fold in Monday's game against Auburn at Allyn Arena.
Instead, the Lakers served up its most important comeback of the season, tying the game by the end of regulation, then beating the Maroons 3-2 in overtime when Brendan Major scored 2:06 into the extra period.
What had been a dormant local rivalry heated up when Auburn moved from Division I to Division II this season. And they were set to have the first of two regular-season clashes Jan. 12 before snow forced a postponement.
In fact, the weather really crowded the Skaneateles schedule, as it went from shutting out Whitesboro 4-0 on Jan. 19 to a snow-enforced home-and-home series with CBA/J-D on the weekend, where the Lakers split.
Now came Auburn, and in the first period neither side could convert. Auburn controlled the flow of play, though, constantly putting pressure on Laker goalie Trevor Diamond.
That pressure led to production as, five minutes into the second period, the Maroons' Ursan Lasgana scored off a feed from Brendan King. Less than three minutes later, it was 2-0 as Kevin Foltz scored and Kevin Franceschelli earned the assist.
Just at that point, though, the Lakers' defense started to assert itself, limiting Auburn to just three shots in the third period and overtime (Diamond would finish with 21 saves) and allowing for a comeback.
Dan Tarolli awakened the home crowd 51 seconds into the third period as he got open on a breakaway and beat Auburn goalie Jeff Gardner to make it 2-1. Fired up, the Lakers kept pushing and, with 8:30 to play, Rory Callahan's pass found Jacob Cooney, who forced a shot home to tie it 2-2.
So it stayed until overtime. With all the momentum, the Lakers kept attacking, and notched the game-winner when Tarolli threaded a pass to Major, whose shot found the net.
This win was an exciting kickoff to a two-week homestand (highlighted by Friday's game against state no. 1-ranked Cazenovia) that would largely determine where Skaneateles would end up in the Division II playoff pecking order. And after that, the Lakers will have a rematch with Auburn Feb. 11 at Casey Park